1. Sociological Perspectives of Crime
1.1.1 Social Structure Perspective
2.1.2 Social Process Perspective
3.1.3 Social Conflict Perspective
Social Structure Perspective
Social Structure Perspective: where crime is a result of an individual’s location within the structure of
society (a focus on group). This approach focuses on the social and economic conditions of life. This
includes relative deprivation; differential opportunity; discrimination; social disorganization; personal
frustration; alternative means to success and sub-cultural values that conflict with conventional values.
There are 3 social structure theories (ESC):
1.Ecological Perspective (Chicago School): this theory encompasses the geographic, demographic
locations, delinquency areas, and concentric circles
1.Criminal Zones: there is more crime in the core of the city
•Zone 1: businesses
•Zone 2: residential and businesses
•Zone 3: working-class homes
•Zone 4: middle-class citizens (suburbs)
•Zone 5: mostly suburbs
2.Criminology of Place: emphasizes the importance of geographic location and architectural features as
they are associated with crime.
3.Broken Windows Theory: people will be more likely to commit crimes in neighbourhoods where laws
are not heavily enforced.
4.Defenceable Space: where you take proactive actions in your neighbourhood to defend your
neighbourhood – symbolic barriers to protect your property (e.g., fences, guard dogs) – i.e. making your
2.Strain Theory: where society encourages everyone to achieve the same goals without giving them
equal opportunities to achieve them. The discrepancy between what society asks for and what the
structure of our society permits is what causes crime. There are 5 ways of adapting to strain (CIRRR)
Merton’s Differential Opportunity: where people are more likely to engage in criminal behaviour only
if they have access to illegitimate opportunities, versus legitimate opportunities
3. Culture-Conflict Theory (Sellin): there are two types of conflicts
•Primary Conflict: a clash of cultures occurs in society.
•Secondary Conflict: when those clashes occur, the middle class defines what is and is not criminal.
1.2. Social Process Perspective
Social Processes Perspective: an ‘interactionist perspective’(i.e., interactions with others) that places
primary emphasis on the role of communication and socialization.
There are 4 theories. Social learning, labelling, social control, and social development theory.
1.Social Learning Theory:1.DifferentialAssociation(Sutherland): people are likely to become deviant if they associate more with
people who hold deviant ideas. There are 9 principles of criminal behaviour: it’s learned; it’s learned with
others; it’s learned in intimate personal groups; techniques of crime are learned; you will commit a code
based on whether you respect the legal code; and the process of learning by associating with criminals is
the same as any other learning.
•Aperson becomes criminal because of an excess of definitions that are favourable to violations of the
law over definitions unfavourable to the law.
•Differential association may vary in frequency, duration, priority, and intensity.
•While criminal behaviour is an expression of generic needs and values, it’s not explained by these since
non-criminals behaviour is also an expression of those same needs and values.
2.Techniques of Neutralization: techniques that rationalize why you commit crimes. (AC-3D)
•Appeal to HigherAuthorities: defending ourselves against an overzealous state (or defending you family
•Condemning the Condemners: blaming the people creating the laws
•Denial of Responsibility: using poverty, abuse, lack of opportunity (external factors) as reasons
•Denial of Injury: claiming they didn’t intend to cause harm
•Denial of the Victim: claiming that the person deserved it
1.Tannenbaum: two facets
•Tagging: powerful people can apply delinquent labels to less powerful people
•Dramatization of Evil: where a person is seen as irrevocably evil (!)
2.Becker: powerful people are more likely to apply delinquent labels to less powerful people and being
labelled as such provokes people to live up to the label
•Deviant: the person to which a deviant label has been applied.
•Existence: deviance is not a quality that lies in behaviour itself but in the interaction between the person
who commits the act and those who respond to it (deviant behaviour is only deviant because it is so
•Once a rule is created, someone will eventually break it.
•Creation: deviance is created by social groups that create rules and infractions that classify certain
behaviours as deviant.
•Consequence: deviance is a consequence